It is fairly obvious that the vast majority of our western, civilised people have forgotten much about their culture and their traditional ways of life and living. In almost all cases this can be directly traced to our own intellectual incompetence and cowardice because many of us who should have known better have encouraged the basest of behaviours amongst our peoples and have deliberately colluded with our natural enemies in order to reduce learning in the general population and to divide the upper echelons of academia by encouraging an ever increasing proliferation of specialisms and the addition of many academically spurious and worthless subjects1.
Over the last few years, in an effort to disseminate much knowledge that has been forgotten, or suppressed2, I have written several posts detailing Christian practices and how they relate to our culture, and others about Christian holy days and feast days and how they, too, relate to our culture3. It is important to realise that for Christians each and every day is holy and is dedicated to some aspect of our faith and this is all laid out in what we call our Kalendar. I have also written four short fictional stories about life and worship from an Anglican perspective which also detail some Christian practices4.
It doesn't matter if one is Anglican, Lutheran, Orthodox, or Roman Catholic or some branch of any of those, one still has a meaning attached to each and every day of the year and as the centuries slide past more and more meanings accrue to each day. I know that some branches of our faith don't follow the Kalendar or choose to ignore all but a minuscule number of the festivals and holy days therein, but even such branches as those still acknowledge some of the important dates, for Christians, in the Kalendar such as Christmas, Easter, Epiphany, Lent, and so on.
So, day by day throughout the year, we Christians have people and events that we commemorate and that are relevant to the workings of the one true G-d (not Allah, which is an evil god, probably Satan, but not G-d), our faith, its founding, its history and its meaning in terms of our lives and our cultures. Of course, sometimes the meaning of a given commemoration on a given day has shifted to encompass a meaning relevant to modern man in modern societies, but sometimes the meaning of a commemoration has been deliberately tinkered with by those of us who ought to know better.
For example, January the first is always the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ - it commemorates the eighth day after Christ's birth, (counting the day of His birth in the early southern european and early Jewish way of reckoning) on which, in accordance with Jewish tradition, he was circumcised. Jesus' circumcision was the first time His blood was shed and it is has been seen since the earliest days of the Church in three related ways, viz. as the beginning of the process of the redemption of mankind, as a demonstration of the physical completeness of His humanity, and of His obedience to Biblical Law. The day of his circumcision is, traditionally, also the day that a boy is given a name and Jesus was no exception.
However, there are many in the West who downplay Jesus' circumcision and concentrate instead on Him having received a name on that day. This is done deliberately to undermine the Jewish origins of Christ's corporeal shell - His body - and arises from a profound anti-semitism and an intensely felt deep discomfort with Jesus' Jewishness. The Roman Catholic branch of the faith, in particular, has done more in this direction than one might expect.
Up to AD1960 the General Roman Calendar gave the first of January as the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord and the Octave of the Nativity. In the 1960 rubrical and calendrical revision under Pope John the XXIII, incorporated into his 1962 Roman Missal (the continued use of which is authorized by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum5), the first of January is called simply the Octave of the Nativity. Since 1969, the General Roman Calendar has celebrated the first of January as the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and the Octave of the Nativity. Pope Paul the VI designated the day as a World Day of Peace in 1974 thus completing the shift away from the acknowledgement of Jesus' physical Jewishness and thereby introducing a basic error into the teachings of that part of the Church.
The Orthodox, the Anglicans and the Lutherans have, by and large, not gone down this route. However, one must note that some episcopal churches affiliated to Anglicanism - most notably the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. - have done so and that recently there has even been a general trend in Lutheranism to rename the feast as The Name of Jesus. In the more sensible parts of the Church this risible attempt to render the physical Jewishness of Christ invisible (and also to introduce a basic error into the Church's teaching) is seen for what it really is: a desperate attempt to curry favour with the Mohammedans by downplaying the Jewish origins of Christianity and also, thereby, sneakily validating the racist anti-semitism inherent in devilish Mahommedanism by not actually openly contradicting such vile racism by affirming Christianity's Jewish origins with defiance and courage.
The Feast of the Circumcision is a feast of Christ and directly related to many Biblical passages6.It has often been the subject of paintings and musical compositions; for example, J. S. Bach wrote several cantatas for this Feast [Beschneidung des Herrn (Circumcision of the Lord)] including Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (BWV 190) for the first of January, 1724 celebrations in Leipzig7.
Traditionally, in England, as New Year's Day starts, it is the custom to open the back door of one's home to let the old year out and to open the front door to let the new year in. This symbolises the expulsion of paganism and the entrance of Christ. It is also traditional to have a dark haired man be the first across one's threshhold and that he carries in bread, salt, fuel for the fire and a piece of an evergreen plant. The post-Roman empire inhabitants of England believed that Christ must have been dark haired because they were most often attacked by people who were, by and large, blond and red headed and, since they were mainly dark haired and Christ would obviously not attack them, then Christ must have been dark haired as well. The carrying into the house of a piece of an evergreen plant symbolised the introduction of life eternal in Christ and the redemption of mankind that started on this day all those years ago; the bread was brought in to symbolise the prayer for a fruitful year and no hunger; the salt symbolised money and a prayer for enough of it; the fuel symbolised the need for warmth and cooking and the prayers of supplication and thanks that go with that need.
English folk also make promises (resolutions) on this feast day. This practice actually dates back to the Babylonians8 but nowadays it has become, for Christians, part of the sanctity of the new beginning in Christ that is the real meaning of the first of January. Also, English people used to follow the custom of cleaning the chimneys on New Year's Day. This was supposed to bring good luck to the household during the coming year. Today, the common phrase is 'wiping the slate clean' (cleaning the front of the hearth which was usually a slab of slate or flat stone) rather than 'cleaning the chimney,' but the intent is the same - that is, the making of resolutions to correct faults and bad habits and the resolve to make the coming year a better one than before.
English husbands used to give their wives money on New Year's Day with which to buy pins and other small essentials for the whole year. This custom disappeared in the 1800s when machines were developed to manufacture pins cheaply, but the term 'pin money' still refers to small amounts of spending cash. The main traditional food at New Year is pork, usually in the shape of a large ham, prepared in festive fashion, with all the seasonal accompaniments. A large ham symbolised well-being and prosperity and sharing it with one's neighbours is, of course, a Christian virtue.
Many people have forgotten the Christian meaning behind the celebrations on the first of January but the traditions linger on and some of us still remember what it's really all about - some of us also still remember that New Year isn't really the first of January, that's just a modern aberration, but is actually at the end of March!
Anyway and moving on, the second of January is also, of course, a Christian day (as all days are) and Anglicans celebrate the lives of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nazianus, two of the Cappadocian Fathers who defended the faith and the early Church against superstition and heresy9. There are, naturally, many other commemorations on the second of January and the Roman Catholic Kalendar (on which most other Western Kalendars are based) lists the following: Abel the Patriarch, Acutus of Syrmium, Adelard of Corbie, Airaldus of Maurienne, Argeus of Tomi, Artaxus of Syrmium, Aspasius of Auch, Bentivoglio de Bonis, Blidulf of Bobbio, Eugenda of Syrmium, Gaspare Bufalo, Guillaume Répin, Hortulana of Assisi, Isidore of Antioch, Isidore of Nitria, Laurent Bâtard, Macarius the Younger, Many Martyrs Who Suffered in Rome, Marcellinus of Tomi, Marie-Anne Vaillot, Martinian of Milan, Martyrs of Anjou, Martyrs of Lichfield, Maximianus of Syrmium, Maximus of Vienne, Narcissus of Tomi, Odilia Baumgarten, Odino of Rot, Paracodus, Seiriol, Serafim of Sarov, Stefana Quinzani, Sylvester of Huleklosteret, Pope Telesphorus, Timothy of Syrmium, Tobias of Syrmium, Vincentian of Tulle, Vitus of Syrmium. Look any of them up and you will find that they died for and in the faith.
However, in England we Anglicans have chosen to commemorate two of the Saints, but that is not to say that any of the others should not be commemorated, of course. As English folk we are also aware that the second of February is generally regarded as the unluckiest day of the year - a belief that comes from the Saxons and persists in the superstition that anyone born on this day will die an unpleasant death.
The third of January is also a feast day for Christians. Once again, there are many saints that who can be remembered on this day such as St. Genevieve, St. Bertilia, St. Blitmund, St. Zosimus and St. Athanasius, St. Wenog, St. Theopemptus and St. Theonas, St. Cyrinus, St. Daniel of Padua, St. Finlugh, St. Fintan, St. Florentius of Vienne, and St. Narses. Perhaps the most interesting of these saints for us today is Saint Daniel of Padua who is often asked to add his prayers to ours to G-d when we are searching for lost items and feel we need G-d's inspiration in conducting our search (in this respect he is similar to Saint Anthony of Padua whose intercessions are also often sought for the same purpose).
Likewise, the fourth of January is also replete with saints and blesseds - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Bl. Angela of Foligno, St. Aquilinus, Bl. Thomas Plumtree, St. Dafrosa, St. Eugendus, St. Ferreolus of Uzes, St. Hermes, St. Libentius, St. Rigobert, St. Mavilus, St. Pharaildis, St. Rigobert (Robert), St. Abraham, and Bl. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia to name just a few of them. For readers in the U.S.A. Saint Elizabeth Anne Seton will probably stand out in that list for she was the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonised.
The fifth of January, too, has its saints - St. Charles of Sezze, St. Roger, St. Syncletica, St. Apollinaris Syncletica, St. Talida, St. Cera, St. Convoyon, St. Emiliana, St. Gaudentius, St. Gerlac, St. John Nepomucene Neumann, St. Lomer, St. Paula, St. Syncletica of Alexandria, St. Genoveva Torres Morales, Bl. Jacques Ledoyen, and Bl. Marcelina Darowska to name but a few - and is also the feast day for the Martyrs of Egypt. We remember two groups of Holy Martyrs who were slain for the faith by the Emperor Diocletian in and around Thebaid in upper Egypt. Approximately three hundred of the faithful were martyred and as we remember them on this day so must we remember our Coptic brethren many of whom have been persecuted and martyred by the Mohammedans in recent years and who are facing a fanatical and satanic government intent on exterminating them. Readers in the U.S.A. may care to note that this day is also the feast day of Saint John Nepomucene Neumann who was the first American bishop to be canonised and, as far as I know at the present time, is still the only male citizen of the United States to be canonised.
The sixth of January is, of course, the Feast of the Epiphany, but it also has many other saints associated with it - St. Andre Bessette, St. Melanie, St. Anastasius VIII, St. Wiltrudis, St. Schotin, St. Diman, St. Edeyrn, St. Eigrad, St. Erminold, St. Hywyn, St. John de Ribera, St. Macra, St. Melanius, St. Peter of Canterbury, and St. Erminold are amongst them. Of course, it is the Epiphany that most ordinary Christians remember about this day.
The Epiphany is the day on which the Magi visited the infant Jesus and presented Him with their highly symbolic gifts. The word 'Epiphany' means 'manifestation' in Koine Greek (New Testament Greek) and because the Magi were gentiles this is the day on which we celebrate Jesus' revelation to the gentiles and also spiritually we celebrate the revelation of G-d the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ since the travels and the presence of the Magi mean that this is so. That latter celebration is what the Orthodox churches call Theophany, from the Ancient Greek 'Τheophaneia' meaning 'vision of God'.
There are a few customs relating to the Feast of the Epiphany and perhaps one should note as well that J.S. Bach also composed, in Leipzig, two cantatas for this feast: Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen, BWV 65, in 1724 and Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen, BWV 123, in 1725. Part VI of his Christmas Oratorio, Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben, was also designed to be performed during the service for Epiphany as I state in Footnote (7 ) to this post. However, most of us will have sung, and perhaps be more familiar with, the famous Epiphany carol - 'We Three Kings of Orient Are' - that was written by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr. for the students of the General Theological Seminary in New York City in 1857 whilst he was serving as the seminary's music director.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, one's priest, wearing white vestments, will bless the Epiphany water, frankincense, gold, and chalk. The chalk is used to write the initials of the three Magi over the doors of churches and homes. I will, as is traditional, scrawl above the outside doors of my house, using the blessed chalk, 20+C+M+B+13 to commemorate the three Kings Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar in 2013 and to invoke a blessing on my house for ‘C+M+B’ also stands for Christus mansionem benedicat, meaning "Christ bless this home." The names of the Magi mean ‘Master-of-Treasure’, ‘King’ and ‘Protect-the-King’, respectively. (The Syrian Church has given them Persian names – Larvandad, Hormisdas, and Gushnasaph but they’re not, to my mind, very euphonius.) Anyway, marking the lintels of doorways is an old European practice that originally had overtones of magic (protection of the house). However, the symbols are now used throughout the world and represent our Christian traditional Epiphany prayer and blessing. Why don’t you join us in using them even if you’re not particularly religious – all it takes is some chalk and little bit of effort. After all, if Muslims can occupy whole streets to pray then surely we can chalk a prayer on our own door lintels!
I wrote about all the traditional English customs surrounding the Epiphany at NER at http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/31713 some time ago, so if you want to know more just click on that link. Traditionally, the Feast of the Epiphany was also the day on which the parish priest announced the date of Easter, which, being a movable feast, has to be calculated. Many priests still observe this tradition even in the West where people could be expected simply to consult their diaries.
Well, that's the first week of the year explained in Christian terms. If I'm spared I'll outline the other fifty-one as we go along.
* The Latin words, Dies Gloriae, in this title mean 'Days of Glory' and come from Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae: Volume 30, The Gospel of Grace: q. 114 a. 8 co. 109-114: "[...] Prov. IV[:VIII], ["]iustorum semita quasi lux splendens procedit, et crescit usque ad perfectum diem["], [St. Jerome's Vulgate Latin Bible] qui est dies gloriae." ("...Proverbs 4:18: "But the path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forwards, and increaseth even to perfect day.," [Douay-Rheims Bible] which is the days of glory.")
1) "...virtually all museums and galleries that receive public funds have been remodelled to weaken their connection with the past, or are being remodelled to make them into vehicles for contemporary propaganda.
The British Museum is a good illustration of this second purpose. Because the most celebrated of its exhibits are the products of alien and often dead races, and because the universal prestige of one of those races is such that only the boldest dare attack its works, this museum has not received the same comprehensive gutting as the National Maritime Museum. Instead, the labels to exhibits in the Greek and Roman galleries have been supplemented by written comments by black people in this country about what those exhibits mean to them.
Even classical musicians have been told to change if they want to receive continued public funding. In October 2003, the Association of British Orchestras organised a symposium on Cultural Diversity and the Classical Music Industry, and effectively required attendance from every classical music organisation in England larger than a string quartet. Among those addressing the symposium was Professor Lola Young, Head of Culture at the Greater London Authority. She said: "We must change the look of the classical music industry". She was supported by Roger Wright, head of BBC Radio 3, who confessed that everyone at the BBC now underwent "diversity training"." From: Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back by Sean Gabb; The Hampden Press, 2007, 109pp.
ISBN: 0 9541032 2 X
2) One of the most interesting pieces of knowledge that one can deduce from the bare facts in the recent Pew Research Center's reports is that Christians, who make up a third of the world's population, are also the most persecuted group of people on Earth and that Mohammedans are the people usually doing the persecuting (not just of Christians, but also of all other relegions, and that, obviously, gives the lie to the perpetual Mohammedan claims about worldwide so-called 'Islamophobia'). You can find the three full reports here at http://www.pewforum.org/Government/Rising-Tide-of-Restrictions-on-Religion.aspx , from where each report can be read and downloaded so that you, the readers, can judge for yourselves.
3) You can find the posts I am referring to at:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/40600 on the Hours and the fightback against Mohammedan incursions in the workplace
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/39638 on Advent
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/33022 on Ash Wednesday
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/32956 on Shrovetide
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/32648 on St Valentine and his day
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/32534 on the Golden Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/32370 on Candlemas
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/32179 on one aspect of the Epiphany
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/31933 on St. Priscilla - 16th January
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/31713 on Twelfth Night and Epiphany
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/31544 on St Thomas Beckett and Sts Trophimus - 29th December
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/30832 on St Gelasius - 21st November
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/30694 on St Gregory of Palamas and hesychasm (meditation) - 14th November
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/30661 on the Venerable Bede and music (especially Christmas Carols)
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/30644 on St Justus - 10th November
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/30567 on St Efflam - 7th November
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/30552 on St Leonard of Noblac - 6th November
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/30536 on Bonfires and saints
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/24695 all of which are about Christmas Carols
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/20372 on Bright Week (Holy Week)
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/20097 on St Nicholas Owen - 22nd March
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/18803 on resolutions and Twelfth Night
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/18770 on the Archbishop of Glasgow's Great Curse
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/17972 on Martinmas (Martlemas)
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/17875 on lighting the Guy Fawkes bonfire from the Sanctuary flame
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/17874 on a Bonfire Night and a Martlemas scurrilous rhyme
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/17379 on windows in churches - letting the light out
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/17347 on God being an Englishman
http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_category.cfm/cat_id/153/sr/11 on Christianophobia
4) You can find the stories here:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/103385/sec_id/103385 'An Advent Tale, Or, Christmas Miracles Do Happen'
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/111793/sec_id/111793 'Holy Water, Or, There Is An Eastertide In The Affairs Of Men'
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/122546/sec_id/122546 'If Quires Of Angels Did Rejoice'
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/130760/sec_id/130760 'I Call The Living - I Mourn The Dead - I Break The Lightening'
5) Summorum Pontificum (Of the Supreme Pontiffs) is an Apostolic Letter given out by Pope Benedict the XVI, and issued motu proprio (on his own initiative). The document specified the circumstances in which priests of the Latin Church may celebrate Mass according to the Roman Missal promulgated by John the XXIII in AD1962 (that containing the Tridentine Mass), and administer most of the sacraments in the form used before the liturgical reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council. The document, dated the seventh of July 2007, and in force since the fourteenth of September 2007, was released along with a letter in which Pope Benedict explained his reasons for issuing it. More detail about this can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summorum_Pontificum .
6) Most often quoted in this context is Luke 2:21 - "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb."
7) Amongst the others are Jesu, nun sei gepreiset (BWV 41) for the first of January, 1725; Herr Gott, dich loben wir (BWV 16) for the first of January, 1726; Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm (BWV 171) for the first of January, 1730; Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben for the first of January, 1735 (from the Christmas Oratorio Part IV - Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben - which part was composed to be sung at the Epiphany).
8) The earliest recorded festivities in honour of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed. For more about this go to http://www.history.com/topics/new-years
9) Further information on St. Basil the Great is here at
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02330b.htm and on St. Gregory of Nazianzus is here at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07010b.htm .